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Indoor Air. 2003 Sep;13(3):283-91.

Seasonal cycle of VOCs in apartments.

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Centre for Environmental Research Leipzig-Halle Ltd, Department of Human Exposure Research and Epidemiology, Leipzig, Germany.


To assess the adverse health effects of volatile organic compounds (VOCs), epidemiological studies combine the health outcome of individuals with their concomitant VOC exposure. While the latter is representative of the studied period, health effects might also be the result of long-term exposure or emerge in consequence of a peak pollution throughout the year. To address these problems, additional information about the spatiotemporal distribution of VOCs is necessary. The present paper aims at elucidating the spatial and temporal variation of VOC concentrations in Leipzig, Germany. The analysis is based on 1499 indoor and 222 outdoor measurements taken in the period between 1994 and 2001. All data were collected in the frame of epidemiological studies (Diez et al., 1999; Fritz et al., 1998; Schulz et al., 1999). The analysis comprised concentrations of 30 VOCs belonging to the groups of alkanes, cycloalkanes, aromatics, volatile halogenated hydrocarbons, and terpenes. We found that the VOC load in indoor air is, on average, 10 times higher than outdoors. For the studied period there was a clear downward tendency for all VOCs in apartments in Leipzig, except for terpenes which show an upward trend in the period 1996-99. In indoor air we observe an annual cycle for the total VOC concentration as well as the sum concentrations of the above called groups. Highest concentrations occur during the winter months, approximately three times higher than the summer burden. We summarize this finding in a seasonal model, which is fitted to our measurements. Based on the model we develop a procedure for seasonal adjustment, which enables to roughly estimate the annual peak concentration utilizing one monthly observation.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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